A cheese board is always a wonderful appetizer to set out at a party, whether it’s a holiday dinner or just a small gathering with a few friends. Guests love being able to pick at the board with a refreshment in hand and not have to worry about spoiling their appetite before the main course is served.
This holiday season, you can impress your guests with your own holiday cheese board rather than rely on the packaged cheese and cracker trays that are sold at the grocery store.
Once you learn what a quality cheese board consists of, it becomes very easy to build a cheese board for any occasion. Whether you’re adorning your cheese board with a mini pumpkin for Thanksgiving or a few pine branches for Christmas, making an impressive cheese board that your guests will love will become a no-brainer.
Cheese Board Components
A good cheese board consists of multiple kinds of cheese and delicious accompaniments that complement the flavors and texture of the cheese. As a rule, it’s generally best to buy two ounces of cheese per guest.
Pick a soft cheese
It’s typically best to offer three different kinds of cheeses on your cheese board, with a soft cheese being one of the options. Our recommendations include creamy cheese like brie or camembert. Both are pretty neutral in flavor and have a rich, soft consistency that spreads well over crackers.
Pick a hard cheese
We also like to include a hard cheese in our array of cheese offerings. The stiff texture makes the cheese easy to pick up on its own and is a nice alternative to the soft cheese on the board. Popular hard cheeses include cheddar cheese and Spanish cheeses like Manchego, which offer a pleasant, nutty flavor.
Pick a bold cheese
It’s always fun to add one really bold or flavorful cheese for the true cheese lovers at your party. Whether it’s a chunk of Roquefort (blue) cheese or a log of goat cheese, showcasing a flavorful and less conventional cheese is not only a way to please your cheese-loving guests, but it’s also a way to introduce new cheese flavors to guests who are not as well-versed in the cheese course.
Whether you choose classic butter crackers or go for something fancy like fig and pecan crackers, it doesn’t matter. You just want to be sure to add some kind of delivery mechanism for the cheeses on your cheese board, especially the softer cheese, which often needs to be spread on something before it’s eaten. If you don’t have crackers on hand, you can always cut up a fresh baguette as well and place baguette slices on your cheese board.
Aside from the crackers on your cheese board, most of the components of a cheese board don’t have any real crunch to them. Nuts can be a tasty way to add some texture and interest to your cheese board. We recommend doing a spiced cocktail nut mix or choosing something flavorful and classic like Marcona almonds.
Dry and cured meats like prosciutto and chorizo are lovely additions to a cheese board. While some cheeses can be a tad salty, it’s nice to have some really flavor-packed options like sausage or cured ham on a cheese board to add variation and a little heft to a cheese board.
With all the salty goodness happening with your cheese board, it’s also nice to mix things up and add a little bit of sweetness. A quality jam is one easy way of doing that. Fruit jams like apricot or fig are particularly delicious with cheese and can be served straight from the jar or out of a small ramekin on your cheese board.
Displaying fresh fruit on your cheese board is not only a way to add more sweet flavors to your board, but it’s also a way to add a seasonal touch. For example, in the fall, you may cut up slices of persimmon or apple for your cheese board. During the winter, pear slices and pomegranate may be your choice of garnish. Choosing a fruit that’s in-season is one of the easiest ways to make your cheese board look thoughtful and festive.
When to Serve Your Cheese Board
In America, most people tend to serve the cheese course before dinner. A cheese board is often a way to keep guests happy and nibbling on food until dinner is ready to be served.
In many European countries like France, however, a cheese board is reserved for after dinner. It’s often seen as a transitional meal between the main course and dessert.
When you serve your cheese board is completely up to your preference. We suggest putting a cheese board out as an appetizer, then bringing any leftover cheeses on a small tray after the main course for any guests who wish to munch on a little more cheese later in the evening.